Disneyland is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many children and adults, but it’s not known for its budget friendliness.
That’s why some people end up saving for a year or more for their trip to Disneyland California.
And while saving money is always a good idea, you can also get away with spending less on the trip itself.
Here are 8 ways to save money while visiting Disneyland.
1. Bring the necessities
This first tip may seem like an obvious one, but if you want to save money, don’t get caught off guard. Pack things like umbrellas, sweatshirts, sunscreen, ponchos and an extra pair of flipflops.
If you have to buy any of these things while you’re at Disneyland, you’re going to pay an arm and a leg.
And if you need one, you probably need one for every family member. Then, you multiply the exorbitant number by 3 or more. It could end up costing a small fortune.
2. Don’t buy souvenirs at Disney
Your kids might be begging for those Elsa slippers, but don’t cave. Everything at Disneyland costs more than if you were to buy it elsewhere. The good news is that you can get most of it somewhere else, so you don’t have to pay the Disneyland premium. Take note of the things your kids like, and then drive to the Disney store later to get them.
3. Use the shuttle
Most of the area hotels offer free shuttles to Disneyland, and you should definitely take advantage.
Otherwise, you’ll end up paying an extra $20 a day on parking. It’s even more when you have an oversized family-friendly car or SUV.
Yes, parking can sometimes be more convenient because you can come and go as you please, but this isn’t a place you’re going to be leaving any time soon.
4. Ask for discounts
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save on admission to Disneyland. All you have to do is ask.
Before you even book your trip, call ahead to find out whether you qualify for a discount. You can get reduced admission for things like military service, college status, corporate or government employment, and credit union membership, among other things.
And if you have a large group going, see if you qualify for a group discount.
The savings per person that you’d get from these discounts can be substantial, so it’s definitely worth the research to see if you qualify.
And it’s crucial to check before you book your flight because some of the discounts may have blackout dates.
Even if you don’t qualify for any of the standard discounts, you can ask about any promotional rates that may be available.
5. Visit in the off-season
One of the best ways to save money on your Disneyland trip is to visit in the offseason.
You’d be surprised at how much you’ll save – even souvenirs can be more expensive at peak times (but you won’t be buying those at Disney anyway). Plan your visit for any time in September, January, February or March to get great offseason rates.
You may also be able to find a good deal in October or November as long as you steer clear of Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Basically, whenever school is out or there’s a kid-friendly holiday, Disneyland will be more expensive.
Also, plan to visit the park during the week, if at all possible. Because most kids are at school during the week, these days are typically cheaper.
Disneyland also has what they call “value days” where admission is cheaper.
You’ll typically find value days during the off-peak season and during the week. Just check prices and keep your schedule flexible if you want to save the most money.
6. Get a Disney credit card
This is a great way to save money if you want to visit Disneyland more than once, but it can also be worthwhile if you’re a diehard Disney fan and buy all the movies and merch regularly.
When you open a Disney Visa card, you may even enjoy a bonus, like a $200 statement credit after spending $500 in three months.
The deals will always change, so be sure to check the fine print before you sign up. But a $200 credit would certainly help pay for at least one person’s admission fees.
Also, be sure to pay the balance off right away or you’ll quickly negate the savings and rack up some debt.
7. Get a Disneyland Passport
If you live in the area and plan to visit Disneyland more than a few times, a Disneyland passport will be worth your while.
If you’re a SoCal resident, you can save the most money and snag an annual passport for under $400.
The same passport will cost about $300 more for people who live outside the SoCal area. Still, if you’re planning a few visits to the park within a year, you may end up saving money in the long run.
There are other tiers that may make sense if you’re planning to spend a lot on merchandise and dining (which is likely if you’re visiting the park multiple times).
If you’re thinking about getting a passport, signup for the email list to get notified of any deals they may be having.
After the first quarter, they’re more likely to offer discounted passports and you can really snag a great deal.
8. Consider a City Pass
If you’re just planning a week or two in the SoCal area and want to see many sights, you can save money by purchasing a SoCal City Pass.
Start by planning your trip and calculate how much you’d spend on admission without the pass to see if it’ll be worthwhile.
Attractions like Disneyland will never really be considered budget vacations, but they are splurges that the entire family will appreciate.
And even though you’re splurging a little, you don’t have to break the bank. Those “in the know” can visit Disneyland without too much of a burden on their bank accounts.